Memoirs of a Worshipper
Verity Gospel Music Group (release date: June 19, 2012)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.
“They’re praising God in
Chicagotonight,” Byron Cage exclaims on his latest CD, Memoirs of a Worshipper.
Recorded live in the
Windy City’s , the new album by the “Prince of Praise and Worship” contains standalone praise songs as well as rock-infused extended P&W jams. Christ Universal Temple
Cage has for the past fifteen years served as music minister for
Ebenezer A.M.E. Churchin . He describes the concept behind Memoirs of a Worshipper: Ft. Washington, Maryland
“My last CD was recorded when the recession began, and the struggles people began to go through made me write a little different on that CD. It was the type of album to build up the faith of God’s people. For this new CD, I collectively put songs together with Aaron Lindsey that I felt would be the next level of worship. What I really wanted to bring out on this CD was to share with everybody what I’m writing and what’s in my memoirs. Although I’m still giving the message of faith and a message of hope, this is a stronger worship album.”
Indeed, the songs evince strong craftsmanship and melody, from the opening “Gratitude,” which sets a nice tone for the project. Vocalist Mumen “Mookie” Ngenge delivers a compelling cameo appearance on “Gratitude.” It breaks the tradition of P&W albums opening with a brisk but unremarkable praise song akin to the introductory number of a musical.
Fred Hammond, who seems to be making appearances on everyone’s album lately, joins Cage on “Victory.” “Great and Mighty,” TBGB’s Pick of the Week for March 7, 2012, has “our-choir-needs-to-learn-this-song” written all over it. “You” is a melodic ballad that sums up an overarching theme of the album: love for God who loves us even when we are not worthy of it.
“Good Anyhow,” a cover of Rudolph Stansfield’s “He’s Good Anyhow” (1990), adds a dash of traditional tartness into contemporary gospel choir music, and contains a fine vocal assist by Clifton Ross. The performance morphs into “My Refuge,” an extroverted praise piece with a sanctified beat.
Cage saves the best for last. “Troubles Away” is light-hearted and buoyant, the gospel equivalent of beach music, as Cage and Company encourage worshippers to wave and dance their troubles away.
Memoirs of a Worshipper succeeds because the good songwriting propels the praise and worship ambience along without dragging or extended hushed gaps.
Picks: “Troubles Away,” “Great and Mighty”